Amoré, she reminds me of you.
Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista
“She is mysterious and beautiful. That’s why I’ll believe her.” For some inexplicable reason Lee Xiao (Wang Ziyi) was drawn to Kat (Lang Yueting). Maybe it was her looks but more than that she seemed to have a depth of character, intelligence, sophistication and deliberate modesty that was rare. So Lee could not help but fall for her.
In a place where everyone has his or her own agenda, believing her is a declaration of love. Theirs is a budding office romance that can be considered innocent compared to long-standing and scandalous affairs of their bosses and coworkers.
You can watch Chow Yun Fat in THE OFFICE and many other award winning Chinese films for free on a first come first served basis. THE OFFICE is part of the Spring Film Festival organized by the Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies from February 13-18, 2018 at the Shang Cineplex, Shangri La Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City.
Apart from the film festival there are a host of activities celebrating Chinese New Year that are open to the public and are free (also on a first come first served basis). This year the Chinese Painting Exhibit (opening on Feb 13) at the Grand Atrium will also have a painting workshop on jeans (Feb 18). For the schedule, details and other activities scroll down to the end of this article, below.
Despite having the same title, THE OFFICE (Chinese film) has nothing to do with the successful TV comedy from the U.K. created and starred in by Ricky Gervais and subsequent U.S. version with Steve Carell. It couldn’t be more different.
This intriguing movie is the complete anti-thesis of how people perceive China’s economic landscape. Vicious, inner corporate politics, insider trading, financial manipulation, sexual intrigue it all sounds like a Wall Street storyline but that’s what THE OFFICE is about. Even if it is set in the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, the seemingly unfettered, free market where a large corporation’s greed and power is unregulated can be shocking coming from what is still supposed to be under the auspices of China’s Socialist (some say Communist) state.
The story redefines what we think of as a ‘Chinese movie’. Fascinating doesn’t begin to describe it. The futuristic sets, lighting can give BLADE RUNNER 2 a run for its money.
As if the story isn’t unique enough, coming from a supposed Socialist state in China, it is of all things, a musical. Based on a stage show written by Sylvia Chang, entitled DESIGN FOR LIVING. The musical approach is a novelty in Chinese cinema and is actually a worthwhile effort. They achieved the right balance between spoken dialogue interspersed with only the occasional musical portion. Some of them though are spectacular complete with elaborate dance sequences, reminiscent of the success in LA LA LAND.
What sets this apart, however, is the story and production design along with the performances. 2 Best Art Direction trophies to William Chau and Alfred Yau validated this from the 52nd Golden Horse Awards and Hong Kong Film Awards. The unique musicality was also recognized with Best Original Film Score for Lo Tayu and Keith Chan Fai-young from the Hong Kong Film Awards.—according to official wikiwand page.
Cut Out Walls and Trains
Hundreds of strip lights are suspended on a ceiling of a wide impressive lobby that leads to elevators of the palatial Jones & Sunn Headquarters. Rooms, even apartments can sometimes be sliced right in the middle as if the walls were cut out. In other instances the walls are made of glass.
This is a style most often used in theater, so live audiences can witness performances within those rooms built on stage. Here it also seems to be a statement that private conversations or affairs will all be revealed or known. Taking it further, even trains are given this cut out or see through treatment, while functioning on rails. The technical achievement for production design is mind-boggling.
In the center of the CEO’s and other top execs offices is a giant clock that shows its gears, moving and the whole thing rotates. It may be another physical metaphor of the organization as it inevitably reveals its inner workings.
Filipino Brand Makes It
For a smaller detail, in the bar scene where the employees relax, the beer of choice in China these days is San Miguel Beer Light specifically. As the world is flooded by cheap Chinese imports its nice to see at least one Filipino brand making it into this prominent film. Perhaps in the next blockbuster it could be Tanduay Rhum, which took home BRAND OF THE YEAR honors 3 years in a row for the Philippines.
Who Really Wears The Pants
Chow Yun Fat as tycoon Ho Chung Ping is the most recognizable name in the cast, internationally that is. His character is chairman of the trading company, but it was his wife’s family who built it. Ho married into his fortune. While he attends to his wife in the hospital, he leaves the operations to CEO Winnie Chang played by Sylvia Chang Ai-Chia. She adapted her stage script for the screen while director Johnnie To helmed the movie version.
Sylvia is the long time actress, screenwriter and filmmaker who initially produced and starred in DESIGN FOR LIVING on which THE OFFICE is based on. The play became a huge hit when it first ran in 2009 and was able to expand its tour from the originally planned Beijing and Shanghai to all across China— according to New York Times article: A Filmmaker Finds Her Play Is the Thing.
Almost tailor made for this movie is Canto pop superstar Eason Chan. His role as David Wang is a successful executive who uses his charms to seduce women to get ahead. Eason also appears in the movie OUR SHINING DAYS in Spring Film fest which you can also watch for free. OUR SHINIG DAYS is about Otaku culture, animation and comics in China.
It was also Sylvia’s vision to change THE OFFICE into a musical once set to screen. She has directed over 10 movies and written and starred in many more. As an actress she has the record for most nominations for Best Actress at the Hong Kong Film Awards and won twice. Her performance here is that of a powerful woman willing to do anything to succeed. She wasn’t however, able to impart as much of the traditional Chinese values that was her original intent for the play.
New Face of China
For me what was more apparent was the ‘greed is good’ mantra made famous by Gordon Gecko played by Michael Douglas in the 1987 film WALLSTREET. As an outsider looking in seeing this portrayal of a Chinese company can be shocking. There is always the perception that large Chinese corporations were if not controlled by the government closely worked with them. This is a complete and utter departure from that. In both movies, they fall victim to the stock market as well in the case of THE OFFICE – the banking crisis following the fall of the Lehman Brothers. What Sylvia Chang was able to show here, instead more accurately, is the new face of China for the millennium.
Scheduled activities for Chinese New Year:
Also starting on February 13, is the Chinese Painting Exhibit at the Grand Atrium, which features outstanding works by students and masters of the Ateneo Confucius Institute. The exhibition runs until February 18, culminating with a Chinese Painting Workshop (Paint Your Jeans) on February 18, 2 pm at the Grand Atrium open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.
On New Year’s Day, February 16, a special mall-wide Chinese Dragon and Lion Mall Walkthrough takes place at 12 noon. On February 17, 2 pm at the Grand Atrium, visitors of the Shang will be treated to a Chinese Music Concert by the Ateneo Ricardo Leong Center that showcases different aspects of authentic Chinese culture, with a lineup that includes a performance by the Philippine York Lin School Chorale, an Er Hu exhibition, a musical performance by a local Chinese orchestra, a wushu exhibition by the Philippine York Lin School Wushu Group and an inspiring musical performance by Mr. Albert Cedric Tan, a talented pianist who has flourished despite being born blind and struggling with ADHD and autism.
Another special cultural show, the Philippine Ling Nam Dragon and Lion Exhibition will be held on February 25 at 2 pm by the Philippine Ling Nam Athletic Federation, an organization founded in 1956 dedicated to Chinese martial arts, as well as the traditional lion and dragon dance. Young members of the group will be showcasing their talents in a medley of dance, wushu, and drum performances at the Grand Atrium.
More exciting events will be happening throughout the month in celebration of Chinese New Year, Shang will light up the sky with a fireworks display on February 15, 9 pm at the Streetscape, the Flavors of China market on from February 8 to 18 at the Food Forum, consultations for a lucky year with Master Charlie Chao on February 16 and 17, 4 PM to 8 PM at Luxury Lane and Mysterium Manila on February 16 to 18 at the Level 4, Open Café. The Oodles of Noodles food fest will run from February 16 – 28, featuring special noodle dishes with special discounts from participating restaurants.
Our love is forever young
Written and photographed
by Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista
Don Quixote is one of the most loved and recognized novels the world over for its emphasis on the values of chivalry, fantasy and imagination. Ballet Philippines’ version however, also highlights its youthful and romantic angle. DON QUIXOTE starring two international guests artists in Joseph Gatti (Basilio) and Candice Adea (Kitri) will run from February 9-18, 2018 at the CCP Main Theater, Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo.
Joseph Gatti is a gold medalist in the first World Ballet Competition in his native Orlando Florida, 2007. He also earned bronze in the International Ballet Competition and Silver in Seoul International Ballet Competition both in 2006.
Former BP dancer and now resident guest artist Candice Adea has herself won big prizes abroad. She garnered First Prize at the 7th Helsinki International Ballet Competition and a silver medal at the 2010 USA Ballet Competition. She was also recognized with the Maris Liepa Award for Outstanding Artistry at the Boston International Ballet Competition.
Gatti and Adea will be in the lead romantic roles in the opening and succeeding night. BP stars Victor Maguad, Monica Gana and Ian Ocampo will be taking over on other play dates.
Millennials will find this version of DON QUIXOTE as relatable. Anyone who has had a ‘bad date’ or a relationship their parents disapprove of will see themselves in Kitri according to Regisseur / restager Adam Sage. “Don Q is good because the storyline is simple to follow. There’s comedy, there’s love, there’s fiesta time. For those of you who have husbands or partners that have not been to the ballet this is a good one because its not long and drawn out. You don’t have to concentrate that hard to figure out what’s happening,” said Sage.
Sage summarizes the plot, “It starts out with Don Quixote, a knight who is out find his lady the love of his life, Dulcinea. He heads out into the village with his squire Sancho Panza, a short little dumpy fellow who takes care of him. In the town in Barcelona there’s an innkeeper whose daughter Kitri is feisty kid of the village. She’s in love with Basilio who is a poor guy, doesn’t make much money. The father as typical in most places in the world is not very happy about the fact his daughter is in love with someone who has no money and no future.”
BP’s History with Don Q
DON QUIXOTE has a long history with the company having some of the most prestigious guest dancers from around the world. BP Pres. Marge Moreno explains, “We started staging the grand pas de dieux in 1973 and mounted our first full-length version of it in 1981. With (Choreographer) Luminita Dumitrescu, staging the ballet. Many international stars have performed the Don Q with Ballet Philippines: Muñeca Aponte, ABT (American Ballet Theater’s) Martine Van Hammel, Patrick Bissel and Wes Chapman. San Francisco Ballet’s Joan Boada and Houston Ballet’s Connor Walsh.”
Some of the most recognizable names have performed in DON QUIXOTE for BP, “Filipino ballerinas Lisa Macuja, Anna Villadolid, Cecille Sicangco, Toni Lopez Gonzalez, Esther Rimpos, Melissa Cuachon, Wendy Panganiban, Carissa Adea, Katherin Trofeo, Brandon Miranda, Nonoy Froilan and JM Cordero. And of course one of the greatest ballerinas of all time Natalia Makarova performed Don Quixote Grand Pas De Diuex with Patrick Bissel for Ballet Philippines in 1979.”
BP’s new generation of talented dancers have now taken on the iconic roles, “This year 2018 is a special show we have today’s brightest stars in Philippine dance: Candice Adea, Jemima Reyes, Monica Gana, Victor Maguad, Ian Ocampo, as well as amazing Joseph Gatti coming from the USA. Don Quixote is truly a big happy fiesta celebrating life, love and dance.”
From Spain to the World
Although originating from Spain, Don Quixote has taken on universality. Spanish First Secretary Guillermo Escribano said, “We at the Spanish embassy are really delighted supporting the CCP, supporting Ballet Philippines. This is a collaboration that existed a few years ago. We would like to stress that we are celebrating a fiesta of arts, culture. Its not just only Spanish or Filipino its international, universal. Cervantes wrote Don Quixote more than 400 years ago. We celebrated in 2016 the 400th anniversary and inauguration of the novel. We are talking of a key figure in literature and arts. Every time Don Quixote has been reinterpreted in dance and ballet, there are new things that appear.”
Adam Sage: Full Circle
For Adam Sage, Don Q has a strong personal significance. He was a member of Ballet Philippines from 1981-1983. He was a young tall 19 year old, the first foreigner member of Ballet Philippines. He returned to BP last year as Associate Artistic Director and Ballet Master.
Sage said, “This was not only coming home but full circle. This was my first professional job here it was in 1981. It was the first full-length ballet I did for Ballet Philippines was Don Quixote. I was nervous of Don Quixote in that version with Martine Van Hammel and Patrick Bissel of (ABT). That was our first full length so it was very educational.”
Since his BP stint Sage has become a sought after teacher and coach. He has guided dancers that have competed in the first Beijing International Ballet Competition and the prestigious Lausanne International Ballet Competition in Switzerland. He also served as juror for the American Ballet Competition in Miami Florida for 2007 and 2008.
Pinoy’s Natural Instinct for Dance
Because of his long experience internationally and in the Philippines he has gained some insight on how and why Filipinos can excel in ballet and dance, “The thing I found interesting then and now is that there’s an innate quality in every child I’ve seen in terms of musicality and movement. It’s part of the culture here. You can grab almost any child and say sing this song and they can sing it. They learn the words they listen to the radio. Dance is a very big part of your culture. From the time they’re young there are certain dances that you learn. There are certain national songs that you know. And we don’t have this in the States. It’s not the same. So that creates a different kind of dancer one that has a more natural instinct to movement and musicality.”
When asked how this version would be different from the previous ones Sage clarified that the dancers themselves create that personality for each performance. “The biggest thing would be the dancer, the individual, each person who does Kitri or Basilio or Giselle or Odette brings something of themselves. They have their own flavor their own mark to it. The dancers that are performing in the leads are all very different for their own character space.”
Sage describes the variations in the performances of the cast members, “Monica (Gana) as you can tell is a happy sunny person. So she brings a lighter sense to it. Jemima (Reyes) is a little more of a kitten. She’s got a little more bite to her. Candice plays both sides of that very well. She can give you the sunny side and she can give you the kitten side. Candice has done this role before. So I’m sure this is a different experience. Each person in each role brings something different to it as well. For Basilio, they’re all very different. Ian (Ocampo) is boyish, a boy next door kind of look and type of character. Victor is also boyish but in a different way, a little bit more impish. Makulit is a good word. (after hearing it from BP Publicity Head Rhea Bautista) There’s no English word for that.”
Carrie Fisher (General Leia Organa): Forget it Poe! Get your squad back so we can get out of this place. Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron): No General we can do this! We have the chance to take out a Dreadnaught! These things are real killers, we can’t let them get away! Leia: Disengage now commander, THAT is an ORDER! Take that look off your face 3-P0. Anthony Daniels (C3P0): I certainly can’t general. Poe: Let’s go BB-8 its now or never…
STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI has fulfilled every fan’s dream. There are epic battles upon epic battles. Just when you think they’re done another action packed sequence comes at you. In a lot of ways this is better than FORCE AWAKENS, which introduced characters in the vein of A NEW HOPE.
This latest release STAR WARS Episode 8, reminds one of EMPIRE STRIKES BACK with even more action, battles in different environments sometimes happening at the same time. For hardcore fans they’d recognize the older vehicles, Dreadnaughts and the land based AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport), which also figured prominently in EMPIRE only with the clashes taken several notches higher.
New Cream Silk Customized Solution
From the dialogue above there’s the X-Wing and Tie fighter dog fights in orbit/space. There are more spacecraft from both the rebellion and the First Order. Newer androids, BB-8 has an evil twin in all black. One thing that distinguishes this movie from the previous versions is the injection of humor straight from the opening sequence. This was noted by screenwriter, filmmaker, actor and life long fan Kevin Smith in his youtube review.
According to Scott Mendelson of Forbes.com, “the Rian Johnson sci-fi sequel has sold more tickets than any other December release aside from Beverly Hills Cop ($234m in 1984/$599m today), The Force Awakens, Titanic and Avatar. 3D bumps notwithstanding, The Last Jedi is way ahead of the inflation-adjusted totals for all of the Lord of the Rings movies.” It’s currently projected for $630 million for U.S. and has already breeched $1.2 billion worldwide.
The numbers in my mind seem to suggest that the torch has again been successfully passed from the older generation to the millennials. This is no mean feat especially for the young stars in Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn) and Adam Driver (Kylo Ren). This definitely bodes well for upcoming STAR WARS films such as Ewan McGregor’s return in KENOBI set for 2019 and of course STAR WARS Episode 9.
KENOBI: A Star Wars Story – First Look Trailer (2019) Ewan McGregor Star Wars Solo Movie Concept
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – Modern Trailer
John Williams’ Milestone
Its not just all about ticket sales but awards too. Reported by VARIETY, legendary composer, musical director John Williams may break the record for most number of Oscar nominations for two of his movies in the running THE POST and THE LAST JEDI. THE POST is directed by Steven Spielberg who has worked with Williams in all of his movies. Williams has also scored 8 of the STAR WARS films.
If he is nominated for both it would be the 51st and 52nd respectively. His five Oscar wins include: for Best Musical Score SCHINDLER’S LIST (1994), ET THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL (1983), STAR WARS A NEW HOPE (1978), JAWS (1976) and Best Scoring adaptation and Original Song Score for FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (1972). Oscar nominees will be announced February 5, 2018.
Carrie Fisher’s Farewell
The confrontations and action takes place on multiple fronts but there is an even more important reason for a lot of fans to go to cinemas especially in the U.S.. Carrie Fisher who played Leia Organa in the STAR WARS series, has her last living performance in THE LAST JEDI. Fisher passed away December 27, 2016 after suffering from sleep apnea on a commercial flight from London to Los Angeles. Although, traces of cocaine, heroin, were found in her system, they were not conclusively determined as the direct cause of her death. Soon after Carrie, her mother (and Hollywood legend) Debbie Reynolds also passed away from a stroke about a day later while planning funeral arrangements.
Carrie’s daughter Billie Lourd referring to her mother said, “She battled drug addiction and mental illness her entire life [and] ultimately died of it. She was purposefully open in all of her work about the social stigmas surrounding these diseases… I know my Mom, she’d want her death to encourage people to be open about their struggles.”
Stigma on Mental Illness and Drug Addiction
Among the cast she is the one who evolved the most creatively. She skyrocketed to fame in 1977 with STAR WARS A NEW HOPE. Apart from being an actress she became a successful novelist, screenwriter, script doctor and playwright. She used her own struggles with mental illness (she was diagnosed as bi-polar) and drug use as material for her best selling novels: POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE and THE BEST AWFUL THERE IS and one woman play she performed WISHFUL DRINKING. Her openness with her own struggles was a means for her to shed light on the stigma of those diseases.
Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (“Star Wars” Moments)
Writer / director Rian Johnson, shared that he worked in the lines that Carrie Fisher pitched during rehearsals and ended up being the funniest moments in the movie. Her humorous touch may be her lasting legacy here in this installment. In a January 2014 interview, Fisher confirmed her involvement and those of the original cast in the upcoming sequels by saying “as for the next Star Wars film, myself, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill are expected to report to work in March or April. I’d like to wear my old cinnamon buns hairstyle again but with white hair. I think that would be funny.”
get #closerthanever with the new closeup ever fresh
In 2016, Harvard College gave Fisher its Annual Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism, noting that “her forthright activism and outspokenness about addiction, mental illness, and agnosticism have advanced public discourse on these issues with creativity and empathy.” From https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Carrie_Fisher#/2000s
In STAR WARS Episode IX, Fisher was supposed to play an even bigger role in the story. Producers have had to change the script since her death. THE LAST JEDI has become her farewell performance on screen.
What Carrie Fisher fought for concerning mental illness and drug use is particularly relevant for us Filipinos. There are those of us here who believe Carrie should have been killed as an incurable drug addict early in her career. If that happened we, the world would have lost so much, not just her performances but mostly her writings. Whether its her novel, screenplays or one woman act plays which drew a lot of the humor and insights from her experiences with addiction.
Sam YG… Rexona New Pinoy Mover
Luke Skywalker’s character played by Mark Hamill has truly come full circle in this movie. In NEW HOPE and original trilogy he had the brash aggressiveness of his youth, at this point and realistically he is the older, more reluctant, even cowardly hero. Which only seems more believable, that’s why fans were able to relate with his character from the beginning. We understand how and why he’d feel as a mere mortal. At the same time we’ve seen that evolution in him.
PNB You First with DongYan and JaDine
My own favorite scene from the STAR WARS franchise is in the climax of RETURN OF THE JEDI, (maligned by critics when it first came out). Luke was about to be executed by Jabba the Hutt walking the plank, about to fall to his death into the mouth of a gigantic monster called the Sarlacc in the Great Pit of Carkoon. In what seemed like the most desperate clutches, he was still able to extricate himself through his use of the force. Without ruining too much THE LAST JEDI has its moments in that vein, I think that’s why the loyal fans of the franchise appreciates that from writer / director Rian Johnson.
Sarlacc Pit Battle
Rectifying Past Mistakes
Knowing what worked in the past, like the scene above, writers were also conscious of what didn’t work. PHANTOM MENACE was largely criticized for its racist overtones. They had an alien race, Neimoidians that had an Asian accent combined with inordinately large eyes. Jar Jar binks on the other hand had a Jamaican sounding accent. Since ROGUE ONE, that perception has been rectified with the casting of Donnie Yen as a blind Jedi monk Chirrut Îmwe and Wen Jiang as Baze.
Fly the Way You Deserve with PAL
LAST JEDI has put the spotlight on a new Asian character in Rose Tico played by Kelly Marie Tran. But the story also goes beyond rectifying old mistakes by exposing current problems in the world. The plight of modern day slavery is also dealt with here. Rose herself was a victim of it and attempts to damage the gambling haven of Canto Bight that exploits them.
Benicio Del Toro and Laura Dern
There are more cool characters introduced in THE LAST JEDI. Among them code breaker and bounty hunter DJ played by no less than Benicio Del Toro. He has had a lot of critically acclaimed performances. He was a vengeful prosecutor turned vigilante in SICARIO which has a much anticipated sequel called SOLDADO set for release in June 2018. Benicio gives all of his characters that dark, morally ambiguous feel, that gives this film even more texture.
#Throwback: Tanduay Select Yacht Party 2017
Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Holdo is no stranger to a lot of sci-fi fans as she has figured prominently in JURASSIC PARK (1 through 3). Her scenes with the late Carrie Fisher, Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron) are among the most memorable and dramatic in this movie. Most fans will identify Dern as Renata Klein in BIG LITTLE LIES that recently won a lot of awards at the Golden Globes.
Game of Thrones actors
GOT fans have given FORCE AWAKENS a thumbs up with Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma. Her character is given even more screen time in this installment. Gwendoline is the tall warrior/ knight who won our hearts as Lady Brienn or with the ironic name of Brienne The Beauty.
Tim Yap… Rexona New Pinoy Mover
Since then she was not the only GOT actor to be given a prominent role in THE LAST JEDI. Not a lot of GOT fans may remember Ralph Ineson because he only played a minor role in Dagmer Cleftjaw and similarly here as a Senior First Order officer. But Ineson has actually worked in several Hollywood blockbusters: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY1, KINGSMAN1 and HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HOLLOWS.
Kate Dickie who played Lysa Arryn was almost unrecognizable as Hux’s First Order Monitor. She had a cap and black uniform on annotating / reporting to First Order General Hux played by another prominent British actor Domhnall Gleeson.
Apart from lead star Daisy Ridley as Jedi in training Rey, the British influence is certainly felt. Prince William and Harry’s cameo roles were not cut out along with Tom Hardy, Garry Barlow. Other big Hollywood names include director Edgar Wright and Joseph Gordon Levitt as Storm troopers.
Big Screen Goodbye
What writer /director Rian Johnson has done is to give long time fans of STAR WARS what they want with more battle scenes, more action, more intergalactic beasts that are both familiar and strange. The Fathiers are bigger, hairier, faster more powerful versions of racehorses in a galactic casino city. Apart from the epic battle scenes are the individual Jedi vs dark side duels, which may be the best ever. Whether a long time admirer OR NOT it’s the best two and a half hours you can spend in a movie theater.
Besides, how else can you say goodbye to a Princess known in the whole galaxy? She made us love her even more admitting her weaknesses with drugs, medication and alcohol through her humor, wit, words and memorable performances. Farewell Leia, ‘May the Force be with you.’
Written and photographed
By Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista
Jericho Rosales, Erich Gonzales, Jasmine Curtis starrer about a rock star escaping his conflicts by going to his hometown of SIARGAO and a movie musical with a combination of the roaring 20’s and operettas about pre war Manila in ANG LARAWAN with Joanna Ampil, Rachel Alejandro, Celeste Legaspi reaped a majority of the awards in the Metro Manila Film Festival’s Gabi Ng Parangal at the KIA Theater last December 27, 2017.
SIARGAO had a total of 8 while ANG LARAWAN had 5 awards. Both ALL OF YOU and ANG PANDAY had 4 awards, followed by DEADMA WALKING with 2.
SIARGAO with 8 Awards – 2nd Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Jasmine Curtis Smith), Best Director (Paul Soriano), Best Cinematography (Odyssey Flores and team), Best Sound (Jason Conanan, Mark Locsin, Mikko Quizon, Kathrine Ariane Salinas), Best Editor (Mark Victor), Best Looking Couple of the Night (Erich Gonzales) and Best Original Theme Song (ALON by Hale)
ANG LARAWAN with 5 awards – Best Actress (Joanna Ampil), Best Picture, Special Jury Prize to Nick Joaquin for Portrait of a Filipino, Gatpuno Villegas Cultural Award, Best Production Design (Gino Gonzales)
ALL OF YOU with 4 awards – Best Actor (Derek Ramsay), 3rd Best Picture, Best Screenplay (Dan Villegas, Paul Sta. Ana, Carl Chavez and Melissa Mae Chua), Best Looking Couple of the Night (Derek Ramsay)
ANG PANDAY with 4 awards – Children’s Choice, Best Visual Effects (John David Hukom, Blackburst Team), Special Jury Award- Rodel Nacianceno a.k.a Coco Martin and Fernando Poe Jr. Memorial Award
DEADMA WALKING with 2 awards – Best Supporting Actor (Edgar Allan Guzman) and Best Float.
This year there was a very clear delineation between more popular commercial films and more creative material. This is a marked improvement unlike previous years when even the box office top grossers were the ones given the awards with their earnings as basis. So there didn’t seem to be space for themes and movies that enlighten and educate the movie going public’s palate.
Organizers MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim, MMDA GM & MMFF Exec Committee Chairman Tim Orbos made the right decision by putting National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera as head of the screening committee for the MMFF entries. Lumbera is very well respected in the realm of Filipino film criticism as one of the founding members of the Manunuri Ng Pelikulang Pilipino.
Lumbera was given an award of recognition in the middle of the ceremonies. And in his speech he essentially admonished the movie going public to patronize the award winning films and not just the more popular commercial comedies, action flicks that Filipinos flock to.
The irony is that a film like LARAWAN is actually incredibly entertaining; the award for Musical Direction – Ryan Cayabyab is testament to this. More popularly known as Ryan C, who is probably one of the most celebrated composers, musical directors of our time. In Japan where LARAWAN premiered in the Tokyo International Film Festival, they garnered the audience choice award.
IF only our kababayan would open their hearts and minds to the creative triumph that is LARAWAN, they will realize how rich our own Filipino culture and history while being moved and yes entertained. From the trailer Zsa Zsa Padilla, Nanette Inventor and Dulce are all in a hilarious mambo line, which should definitely be enough of a draw.
SIARGAO on the other hand is a movie that highlights the scenic beauty of what is considered to be the surfing capital of the Philippines. There’s a chance at a new relationship for both Diego (Jericho Rosales) and Laura (Erich Gonzales) who meet on the plane. While an old flame in Abi (Jasmine Curtis Smith) still has feelings for Diego. We see a lot of the local culture, at the same time young characters who show a lot of their lives on line.
Nowhere is the gap between quality of films and quantity of audiences more apparent than in SIARGAO director Paul Soriano’s speech. He gave a glowing endorsement to their competitor, which is practically unheard of in the MMFF.
Soriano credited his cast and producer Mark Victor. But he made note of the underwater cinematography of Gaps Abuero and Max Abasolo as well as Odyssey Flores who employed drones to get picturesque aerial shots of Surigao Del Norte.
Paul Soriano in his speech continued, “Yesterday a film touched my heart. I know what they’re going through. You guys, I watched it yesterday in a full house in Rockwell. I know what it is you’re going through. I hope you get the opportunity to see such a beautiful film; Against the World. That’s kinda what we do. It just really hit me. To the team ANG LARAWAN I share this with you guys.”
Days before Soriano caused a stir on line when he lamented publicly when cinemas decided to pull out LARAWAN and other entries early in the MMFF run.
LARAWAN Producer Alemberg Ang, in an interview, clarified that there was coordination with cinema owners and management who requested to prioritize the more popular family oriented films in the opening MMFF weekend (December 23 to Christmas). This is to maximize the greater portion of the movie going public who went with kids and their families.
And immediately after that show titles like ANG LARAWAN, DEADMA WALKING, SIARGAO and ALL OF YOU, especially now after awards night. Alem has confirmed that LARAWAN and the others have now been released to even more theaters around the metro. Please check listings on newspapers and online to find out which cinemas are running the awardees.
Shang Cineplex is already running LARAWAN, SIARGAO and DEADMA WALKING.
Click on link for full schedule.
Of the glowing endorsement from Paul Soriano in his acceptance speech Alem added, “Paul already posted on facebook and tweeted tagging all of us in twitter and fb. I’ve worked with him on TRANSIT. He’s really such a gentleman. He’s such a sincere person, such a great guy. And I guess the concept of Contra Mundum of art versus commercialism (translates to Defy the World). Which is what (MMDA Chairman) General Danilo Lim mentioned in his speech. That really blew us away. It’s our battle cry and continually we’re living it. Even all my indie films its like that. So right now we have a very good product and we’re glad people are responding.”
Full MMFF 2017 Awards list
Joanna Ampil – ANG LARAWAN
Derek Ramsay – ALL OF YOU
2nd Best Picture
3rd Best Picture
ALL OF YOU
Special Jury Prize (tie)
ANG LARAWAN posthumously to Nick Joaquin
ANG PANDAY – Rodel Nacianceno
People’s Choice Award
GANDARRAPIDDO: THE REVENGER SQUAD
Best Supporting Actress
Jasmine Curtis Smith – SIARGAO
Best Supporting Actor
Edgar Allan Guzman – DEADMA WALKING
Gatpuno Villegas Cultural Award
Paul Soriano – SIARGAO
Best Child Performer
Dan Villegas, Paul Sta. Ana, Carl Chavez and Melissa Mae Chua- ALL OF YOU
Odyssey Flores, Gaps Abuero and Max Abasolo– SIARGAO
Jason Conanan, Mark Locsin, Mikko Quizon, Kathrine Ariane Salinas – SIARGAO
Mark Victor – SIARGAO
Best Looking Couple of the Night
Erich Gonzales – SIARGAO
Derek Ramsay – ALL OF YOU
Best Production Design
Gino Gonzales – ANG LARAWAN
Best Visual Effects
John David Hukom, Blackburst Team – ANG PANDAY
Best Original Theme Song
Alon by Hale – SIARGAO
Best Musical Score
Ryan Cayabyab – ANG LARAWAN
Short Film People’s Choice Award
Short Film Best Picture
ANONG NANGYARI KAY NICANOR DANTE?
Written and photographed
By Jude Bautista
Ang sarap nitong pag-ibig, Lalo na noong sinabi mong, Dadalhin kita sa ‘king palasyo
Dadalhin hanggang langit ay manibago. Ang lahat ng ito’y pinangako mo…
—from DADALHIN, with music and lyrics by Tats Faustino.
It was a special night for the Shang Retail Partner’s Appreciation Ball held at the Isla Ballroom of the EDSA Shangrila Hotel, Mandaluyong City last December 7, 2017. This is the yearly occasion Shangri-La Plaza Mall gives thanks to their retailers and celebrates Christmas with them. That night Regine Velasquez’ inspiring voice was able to transport audiences to a magical place, just as she described in her signature hit DADALHIN. Video Excerpts of Regine’s performances are included below.
Regine, performed with PRIMAVERA, the Mandaluyong Children’s Choir, and the full Manila Philharmonic Orchestra. They all took retailers and friends on a musical journey that set the mood for the season of giving. The glittering event was in Isla Ballroom, a well-designed and decorated venue after a sumptuous buffet.
Phil Star Motoring Columnist James Deakin and CNN Philippines – Leading Women’s Host Angel Jacob were the remarkable masters of ceremony for the evening.
Addressing the retailers, Shangri-La Plaza Mall EVP and GM Lala Fojas in a short speech was able to emphasize the mindset for the ball, “We have always looked forward to this annual event because it allows us to personally thank you for your unwavering faith in us and your continuing support. 2017 as we all know has been a challenging year but challenging in many wonderful ways. Aimed at keeping our position as a premiere lifestyle destination, we spearheaded bigger and bolder initiatives to give our mall guests a truly exciting and enjoyable Shang experience. Through the vast array of novel and innovative programs the totality of our offerings is best characterized as the feast for the senses, the food for the soul.
Fojas talked about the thought process behind their wide ranging marketing efforts, “And this year we brought in novel and non-traditional brands and concepts to enrich our merchandise mix and cater to our different target segments. Among them our core market as well as the Millennials and the Gen Zs. After all Shang has been and continues to be a generational mall. And indeed our future rests on our ability to resonate with the ever-evolving consumer with their lifestyles and their changing preferences.”
But the speech was able to garner even more applause and excitement when she announced a prestigious promo that will attract even more shoppers to the mall, “Our marketing programs and events of the Shang continue to feature inspired themes that have been well received. And many remain to be very relevant to our many audiences. We mark the holiday season with Shang’s signature magical Christmas. Our Shang Yuletide Escapade has delighted everyone through our unique Christmas décor, featuring the many reindeers of Santa, our exciting activities and exciting line up of entertaining musical performances. To top it off next week, our launching the Grand Shang Give Away, a raffle promo that will be giving away 3 Mini Coopers. This is sure to thrill the young ones and those that are still young at heart.”
Every P2,500 worth of purchase in establishments / retailers in Shang Plaza Mall entitles the shopper to an entry. The Great Yuletide Escapade Promo will run from December 15, 2017 to April 1, 2018. Watch out for more details on to the official site http://www.shangrila-plaza.com/ Or official facebook page.
Prior to the concert Shang Rila Plaza honored their most loyal retailers celebrating their 20th and 25th years of relationship with the famed mall. Each awardee will receive a commemorative plaque of a designed portrait by National Artist for Visual Arts – Cesar Legaspi.
In the 25th year group are:
Ambassador Home & Electronics Centre represented by Mr. Abraham Lim
BPI ATM represented by Mr. Ferdinand Pantangco
Florsheim Philippines represented by Mr. Manny Concepcion
LS Pascual Optical represented by Ms. Liberty Cajipo and Mr. Ace Ryan Ching
Polo Ralph Lauren represented by Ms. Elizabeth Quiambao
Washington represented by Mr. Hans Clifford Yao
Wendy’s represented by Ms. Romalyn Mendoza
In the 20th year group are:
Besa’s represented by Mr. Armert and Mrs. Liza Besa
Clinica Dentale De Manille represented by Mr. Gabriel Gaerlan
The Big Chill is represented by Mr. Kenneth Tan
Company profiles annotated by emcees Phil Star Motoring Columnist James Deakin and CNN Philippines – Leading Women’s Host Angel Jacob:
25th Year Awardees
Ambassador Home and Electronics Center is a quality home and electronics retailer that offers the latest in appliances, gadgets and I.T. products at the best possible prices supported by reliable after sales service.
Bank of the Philippine Islands ATM, the BPI was founded in 1851 and is the oldest financial institution in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia. BPI pioneered the 24-hour Automated teller machines in the Philippines and now has one of the widest networks of self service machines nationwide.
Florsheim was established in Chicago in 1892, their footwear line is not just known for clean lines but the best materials and incorporating comfort technologies in creating the best designs.
LS Pascual Optical is an eye care center dedicated to offering quality optical services plus a wide array of latest in designer frames, sun glasses, lenses and contact lenses. Thus their promise ‘like you’ve never seen before’.
Polo Ralph Lauren is one of the five brands in the portfolio of the more than 50-year-old Ralph Lauren Corporation. The company under internationally renowned designer Ralph Lauren has been an innovator in aspirational lifestyle branding and continues to build a strong influence in fashion, trends and advertising.
Washington Jewelry Emporium is a major multi brand watch and jewelry retailer in the Philippines. More than a dozen mid and high-end brands can be found in their stores.
Wendy’s is an Ohio based fast food franchise opened its doors at the Shangri La Plaza in 1992. And has always lived up to its catchphrase quality is our recipe to make sure that anytime is the best time for Wendy’s.
20th Year Awardees
Besa’s established in 1935 their shoes and services have become a trusted name in high quality shoes, reliable maintenance for shoes bags and other leather goods Services.
Clinica Dental De Manille is a one-stop oral care shop with the objective of giving their clients top dental and that perfect smile.
The Big Chill was established in 1994 with a brilliant new idea of premium quality blended shakes and refreshing drinks made with 100% freshly cut fruit for people of all ages.
Holland Tulips could not be at the Retailer’s Ball but Shangri La Plaza Mall thanks them for their loyalty.
Regine Oh Holy Night
Regine made note of how special the concert was because of the full orchestra playing behind her. Most of her shows, according to her, are with 5 piece bands. She also commended Musical Director Rodel Colmenar who was at the baton for the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra.
Regine tailor fit her song list for the Christmas season as audiences were moved by:
Go the Distance – from the Disney hit movie HERCULES, Christmas Wish List, O Holy Night. She ended with a bang by revving up the crowd with a 70s disco medley: A Little Prayer, I Will Survive and Last Dance.
Regine – Go The Distance
Written and photographed
By Jude Bautista
ARTIST PLAYGROUND presents a series of 10-minute plays inspired by the songs of rapper Gloc-9 called the G9 SERIES running this weekend from November 18-19, 2017 at the ARTS ABOVE, 112 West Avenue Building Quezon City.
For the reasonable price of P150, you are able to catch 6 plays together with performance art (on Saturday night) in the DISTRICT GALLERY currently housing GROUND ZERO. This is an exhibit running from November 11- December 9 from artists: Racquel De Loyola, Celine Lee, Nasser Lubay, Jose Tong, Marc Gaba, Wipo and Kevin Nieves. DISTRICT GALLERY is just the next floor ARTS ABOVE.
The G9 SERIES is the second set of the RATED AP: ARTS & PERFORMANCE FESTIVAL, which aims to find new talent in the dramatic arts by allowing young people the experience of production work. ARTIST PLAYGROUND for this fest is cooperating with the PAMANTASANG LUNGSOD NG VALENZUELA. PLV’s Theater Majors have done their school proud by producing noteworthy plays.
IN ORDER of performance: 1) BAYAD by playwright Renalyn Alvaran directed by Alleah Hugo, 2) SCANDAL by playwright Mary Jean Moises directed by Beulah Saycon, 3) MAGDA by playwright Wenna Diaz Jarito directed by Roxy Hipolito, 4) HINAHANAP NG PUSO by playwright Kate Rose Urrutia directed by Jester Ramirez, 5) ITIM NA SAMPAGUITA by playwright EJ Malicdem directed by Emman Deliarte 6) FIRST LOVE by playwright Kimberly Claire Somoza directed by Alex Gallo.
The venue is near the EDSA side of West Ave. As a landmark look for the large signs of the B.I.R Bureau of Internal Revenue on the West Avenue Building. The government agency occupies several floors while ARTS ABOVE is at the penthouse, two top most floors, hence the name.
Eggsy (Taron Egerton) was excited to get out of the Kingsman tailoring shop and have a quiet dinner with his young, loving girlfriend. Two steps from the Kingsman vehicle disguised as a black London cab, a familiar face confronts him. Charlie (Edward Holcroft) holds a gun to his neck and forces him into the car. Eggsy appears to give in, just as the car door opens he flips Charlie into the backseat and tries to electrocute him with a hidden Taser. Charlie responds, “That’s not going to work on me anymore.” Charlie’s right sleeve burns and reveals a robot arm and punches Eggsy who gets out of the way. Eggsy screams at the driver to “Just drive!” Just then Prince’s ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ starts blaring out the speakers as they try to kill each other, the car runs a hundred miles per hour through London’s busy streets.
As they struggle in the back seat, Eggsy sees another car speeding beside them. The back door swings open as Eggsy hangs on. Before an oncoming car hits the door, Eggsy leaps out of the way and he lands on the door skimming on the street like a spinning surfboard. The attacker’s car following them tries to run over him. Just before he gets run over, he grabs the trunk handle, opens it and gets in. He hits Charlie through the cushion and starts the fight all over again.
Kingsman The Golden Circle has it all: cars being driven underwater, ordinary looking eyeglasses that allow video conferencing, robot dogs that tear people apart to electric lassos and bullet proof umbrellas, hands down the best action movie of the year. The first film established it as James Bond to the nth power with a little bit of Austin Powers mixed in. Golden Circle tops all that and much more.
Combining high tech action and dry British comedy had the expected result: a hit earning $192.2million worldwide after the first week of opening. In the U.S. it has already out grossed the first film. But what was even more remarkable is how it dealt with something that was perfectly relevant to Filipinos. The message seems targeted or specifically tailor made for the Philippine situation.
Nowhere in the film does it even mention the phrase or acronym EJK or extra judicial killings because it goes way further than that. The film breaks the fallacy of two very clear generalizations that have been the norm in our country: 1. All drug users are criminals 2. All criminals deserve to die.
Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons were the two comic book creators originally called The Secret Service. But both Writer/ Director Matthew Vaughn and screenwriter Jane Goldman should be praised and congratulated for making the story and dialogue for The Golden Circle beyond an action blockbuster. They injected something pertinent most especially with the current situation in our country.
Before anyone can say spoiler alert, in this section of dialogue no character is revealed to have died nor the result of their plans. It does reveal the mindset and intentions of the U.S. President convincingly played by Bruce Greenwood. The scene is after nemesis and Drug Lord of the World Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) has poisoned millions of people in America and the world with an additive in her drugs that ensures a painful death. She also offers an antidote if the President will end his War on Drugs and legitimize her business.
President (Bruce Greenwood): What I’m proposing is we appear to agree to her demands to prevent global panic. And then let the junky scum go down in flames! Hehehe Yeah! Let this Poppy cancer go down with them. No drug users, no drug trade! Win-win situation here. Chief of Staff Fox (Emily Watson): But sir we’re not talking about a handful of hostages here. We could be looking at the deaths of hundreds of millions worldwide. President: Hundreds of millions of criminals a burden to society! Am I right McCoy? General McCoy (Mark Arnold): Absolutely sir.
Chief of Staff Fox: What about people who were just experimenting or self-medicating? Functioning professionals? Kids? President: Don’t give me that crap Fox! The fact is this presidency has just won the war on drugs! General McCoy: Congratulations sir! President: Thank you! And that deserves a toast! Chief of Staff Fox: This is totally unethical sir. President: Fox shut up! McCoy declare martial law we need to maintain control. Commandeer stadiums, schools, civic centers order a press black out. Put the military on standby…
Champ (Jeff Bridges): Whether they committed a crime those people are human beings. Great God, right now Tequila is in deep freeze because of this. Whiskey (Pedro Pascal): We can’t make it personal sir. Champ: Personal? Agent we can’t stand by and let folks like him die. These people, we’re they’re only hope…
Although the President was not the direct cause of the ‘deaths’ of drug users, it is crystal clear that he is more than happy to let them die, even when he had the chance to prevent it. According to the morality, logic and common sense of the film because of this he was still criminally liable. It’s the universal consensus in laws of man – Constitutions across the world, laws of God – in different religions from thousands of years is the sacredness of human life.
If this is common sense and is a universal consensus how is it in our country that all drug addicts are considered criminals? And how is it that all criminals therefore are deserving of summary executions? How is any of that acceptable? How was it made as a viable solution to our country’s ills?
If the U.S. President in this film can be held accountable for letting people die what more if a President is the actual cause of these people’s deaths? It may not be in the millions but it’s already in the thousands here in the Philippines. Then that President is without a doubt criminally liable.
The War On Drugs is not the only political statement of the film. There are many but one of the most traditional is the use of the U.S. flag. The symbolism of inserting it in cinema is even older than Hollywood. In my Documentary Film class (many, many years ago in DLSU) was taught by Dr Doy Delmundo. He is one of the esteemed screenwriters and filmmakers in the Philippines. He showed us one of the earliest films ever produced here during the Fil-Am War of 1898.
U.S. soldiers were marching, carrying Old Glory. He talked about the positioning, front row and center. As it got closer to the camera the stars and stripes filled almost the top half of the frame. That simple composition impresses upon the viewer the dominance of America or as an emerging superpower from a silent-era documentary film.
More than a hundred years later, the theme and technique still live on albeit with more special effects. In one scene from KINGSMAN the good guys pull a ripcord releasing a parachute. Emblazoned on the whole fabric the unmistakable Stars and Stripes. The U.S. flag almost explodes on to the whole silver screen as air hits the chute expanding it. The message here is slightly changed, with America being the world’s savior.
Think and Ask Questions
Whether it’s the War on Drugs or American role in the geopolitical landscape, no one has to subscribe to any and all of the ‘political statements’ or ‘propaganda’ intentionally or unintentionally made in KINGSMAN THE GOLDEN CIRCLE. What it should do to us as viewers is make us think and ask questions. Why do we believe the things we do? What is my stand on this or that issue and why? And if a movie is able to make me think this way and ask questions while at the same time entertain using incredible action scenes with Prince and Elton John blaring in the background, then so much the better.
Guardians 1 Ending
GUARDIANS Awesome Mixtape
There’s been a recent trend in blockbusters of using music from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Yes it has been done countless times before. But the recent success of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (the first one) has even more action and sci-fi flicks turning to the older hits that millennials are completely ignorant of. GUARDIANS was nominated for a Grammy, AMA & Billboard for their soundtrack while winning Best Music Supervision for Films Budgeted Over 25 Million Dollars (Dave Jordan) from Guild of Music Supervisors Awards and HMMA Best Soundtrack Album.
GUARDIANS last scene even included an old tape deck, on a space ship for that matter playing AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrel, before that scene MOONAGE DAYDREAM from David Bowie and even the Jackson’s ABC during the credits. STAR TREK BEYOND followed with Beastie Boys SABOTAGE for its climactic scene.
Crazy Elton John
KINGSMAN THE GOLDEN CIRCLE took it a step further when they actually cast one of the biggest songwriters from 70s and onward: Sir Elton John as himself. His scenes are the craziest you’ll ever see him. He plays to nearly all of his past real life tabloid exploits and emotional meltdowns dropping f-bomb after f-bomb. His fans and most people won’t be surprised at his ease in comedy. What is a revelation is his adeptness in the fight sequences. Youth of today will get a great intro to his work: DANIEL, SATURDAY NIGHT’S ALRIGHT FOR FIGHTING and Trump’s favorite ROCKET MAN.
He wasn’t the only 70s icon honored too. Mark Strong who plays the gadget man Merlin had a very touching rendition of TAKE ME HOME COUNTRY ROADS by John Denver.
Official KGC trailer
Kingsman The Secret Service represented everything that’s quintessentially British from dapper suits to scotch whisky. The Golden Circle adds their American cousins in Jeff Bridges (Champ), Channing Tatum (Tequila) and Halle Berry (Ginger Ale).
Pedro Pascal is unrecognizable as cowboy/agent Whiskey. Fans know him as the Mediterranean, Middle Ages Prince Oberyn in an unknown TV series called Game of Thrones. Here he has an electric lasso. Pascal was able to transform himself looking and sounding like a young Burt Reynolds with a southern accent. Pascal was born in Chile but grew up in Orange County, California and San Antonio, Texas.
The Golden Circle may seem like pure escapism with international locations, huge stars, super visual effects and awesome soundtrack but it also has some food for thought us Pinoys are in dire need of.
As Harry Hart (Colin Firth) imparted to Whiskey: “Manners maketh man.”